Ed Murray, Mayor
SUBJECT: Magnuson Park tree-cutting case resolved
7/25/2014 10:30:00 AM
Kimberly Mills (206) 684-8602
Earlier this year Kurt Zwar was charged in Seattle Municipal Court with one count of Removal/Destruction of Parks Property pursuant to Seattle Municipal Code18.12.070(B). The criminal charge reads:
Commit the crime of removing, destroying, mutilating or defacing any structure, lawn, monument, statue, vase, fountain, wall, fence, railing, vehicle, bench, shrub, tree, geological formation, plant, flower, lighting system, sprinkling system, gate, barricade or lock or other property lawfully in any park, or removing sand, soil, or sod from any park. Contrary to Seattle Municipal Code Section(s): 18.12.070(B)
The maximum penalty for this crime is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Based upon the circumstances, the City did not seek any jail time but simply requested that Zwar perform a certain number of community service hours. If Zwar completed community service and other standard conditions, the City told him it would dismiss the charge.
The charge arose from Zwar’s unauthorized destruction of multiple trees on Seattle parks property.
The unauthorized destruction of property was investigated by the Police Department, then referred to the City Attorney’s Office for the filing of criminal charges. Yesterday, Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Christopher Williams requested the charge be dropped.
“I would like to thank the City Attorney’s Office for its help in following up with the Seattle Police report and Seattle Parks and Recreation staff reports about the destruction of trees at the park,” Williams wrote on July 24. “It is clear to us that Mr. Zwar broke the law by cutting down many trees in the “flyway” area.”
“Since the time that the trees were cut,” Williams said, “we terminated Mr. Zwar’s volunteer service agreement with Seattle Parks and Recreation and have excluded him from the park. In that time, Mr. Zwar has stayed away from the park and has not attempted to cut down any more trees.”
“We are satisfied with this outcome,” Williams said, “and are asking that you drop the charge against Mr. Zwar as soon as possible.”
Today, CAO dismissed the charge. Criminal Division Chief Craig Sims said: “The criminal charge was filed as there was a good-faith basis to believe Mr. Zwar’s actions violated the law. Our common practice is that we solicit the victim’s input when determining the appropriate resolution to a criminal matter. As the Parks Department Superintendent, Mr. Williams, was satisfied with the remedies achieved outside of the court of law, we will respect and honor his request to dismiss the criminal charge against Mr. Zwar.”